Chapter 34

There was a very good crowd at Luke's tonight. The disc jockey played a variety of contemporary popular music from the 80's, 90s, and today, and everyone seemed to be in a mood to party. People who rarely socialized together and never claimed to have great affection for one another joined each other in toasts and danced enthusiastically on the dance floor. Most of the small tables at Luke's encouraged an intimate atmosphere by seating only two or four people. Marcus Taggert and Donna Richards were seated by themselves at a table. Karen Wexler and Joe Scanlon shared a table with Grace Sullivan and Chris Ramsey. While Karen and Joe spent most of the evening on the dance floor, Grace and Chris were content to stay huddled at their table.

"I don't know how you roped me into spending a dull evening with you here tonight Grace," Chris sulked as he sipped on a beer. " I could show you a much better time at my apartment."

Frowning, Grace thought that the last place in earth she'd want to be was in Chris' apartment. There was not enough liquor in Port Charles that would make Chris' suggestion appealing to her. She assured him, "Chris, take it from me, you aren't going to want to miss the fireworks later tonight."

"Yeah, right." Chris took a big gulp of beer and said, "I know what you told me about Kevin Collins and Ellen Burgess but I just don't believe it. Talk about two prim and uptight people! They couldn't generate any heat with a fireplace, wood, charcoal, paper, and box of matches. Nothing's going on between them and nothing's going to happen tonight. If that's why we're here we're wasting our time."

Grace continued to urge him, "Just be patient a little longer. Matt and Ellen aren't even here yet but I can almost assure you there will be fireworks here this evening and we might even be able to help set them off." Grace's anger smoldered as she thought of the numerous times Matt rebuffed her love for him because of his infatuation with Ellen Burgess. Well, after tonight, maybe Matt would be looking at her and Ellen in a new light. With these thoughts in her mind, Grace spied the object of her affection and her perceived rival entering Luke's. A slow, shrewd smile spread across her face as she first watched Kevin shake hands with Matt and then hug Ellen and kiss her on the check. "No," she thought to herself, "boring would not be the word to describe what was going to happen tonight."

"Finally!" Lucy exclaimed when she saw Matt and Ellen arrive. Kevin had been polite all evening and had responded to every question and comment Lucy had lobbed his way, but she was becoming upset as he continued to be emotionally detached from her. Lucy prided herself on having a sixth, and maybe even a seventh, sense. Yet there was no emotional connection tonight with Kevin. Even in the past when he was furious with her or when he had other things on his mind, she always still felt this connection with him. The connection was still strong when she was with Scott and when Kevin was with Eve. But now, she couldn't feel it or the feeling was so faint she couldn't detect it; something was different.

Tonight's gathering was the first opportunity for Kevin and Matt to meet since Matt returned from New York. "Welcome back, Matt," Kevin said shaking Matt's hand.

Meanwhile, Lucy had Ellen in a python-like grip and whispered into Ellen's ear, "It's about time. I was beginning to think that you two had bailed on me."

"You don't know how close that is to the truth," murmured Ellen, whose brown eyes fixed on Kevin, who was staring at her also. "Hi Kevin."

With her locs swept into an updo and dressed in an Asian-style short silk dress that hugged the curves on her body, a mesmerized Kevin worked to keep his true feelings hidden. Taking one of her hands into his, Kevin leaned over and kissed Ellen lightly on the cheek. "We're glad that you made it. Happy Valentine's Day, Ellen."

"You too, Kevin."

~~~*~~~

The sign says do not enter
No trespassing allowed
With visions of redemption
I walk against the crowd
The sun is white with envy
Confusion on the ground
Breathing soft and holy
Temptation's only sound

~~~*~~~

The foursome took their seats just as a waitress came by to take their order for appetizers and drinks. Everyone agreed it was very nice to take a break from work and celebrate a bit this weekend. Lucy rattled on about her new cosmetic company and boutique and how holidays such as Valentine's Day were a boon to her business. To stroke Kevin's ego Lucy bragged, "And in addition to work, Kevin has been busy working with his publisher on promoting his novel, General Homicide. In fact, he's been so busy with that book and his work at GH he's had very little time for me," she pouted.

Noting the book was doing quite well in sales, Matt mentioned he saw Kevin's book in bookstore windows when he visiting New York City. "I hope you aren't too successful or some people might come after you with lawsuits."

Shaking his head, Kevin disputed Matt's last comment. "It's a work of fiction Matt. The book isn't based on real people."

"Right," Matt grinned. "That chief anesthesiologist murdered in chapter 6 who had a sexual harassment suit brought against her bears no resemblance to Monica Quartermaine. The pediatrician strangled in chapter 9 who was married to the ex-hooker nurse and had an affair with his stepdaughter bears no resemblance to Tony Jones. The ..."

Kevin waved his hand, interrupting Matt's analysis of his book. "Point taken, point taken," Kevin laughed.

Cocking an eyebrow, Lucy looked thoughtfully at Ellen and commented, "Well, now that I think of it, not everyone in the book makes out so badly. If I didn't know better, I would say that the by-the-book ER nurse who aids the psychologist/detective in solving the murders was partially modeled after Ellen. Even though Doc hasn't admitted it, he kind of merged you and me Ellen for that character. The business-like, no nonsense part is you Ellen. The sensual attractive part is me." Realizing she was being somewhat disparaging to Ellen in her last comment, Lucy quickly added, "Oh and it's you too Ellen, just not as obvious. And the intelligent part comes from both of us."

A stunned Ellen saw confirmation in Kevin's face, who gave a barely detectable nod of his head, that indeed, the heroine in his novel was based on her, and she wanted to kick herself for not making this discovery first.

Clearing his throat, Kevin noted, "Well Lucy, let's just say if you're right, I won't have to worry about a lawsuit from you or Ellen."

Matt looked quizzically at Kevin but was addressing Lucy's comment, slowly observing, "You know, you're right Lucy. Elaine, in the novel, is quite a bit like Ellen. Unlike the other characters in the book, I never connected her to a real-life person, mainly because of the romance that blossomed between the ER nurse and the psychologist."

Nodding emphatically, Lucy agreed, "Yes, that's my part in the character."

Upon reflection, Matt remembered in addition to the personality similarities, Elaine was described in the book as wearing her hair in locs and having a traffic-stopping body. The fact that Kevin based the character Elaine on his fiancÚ did not sit well at all with Matt, but he consciously chose to focus on Kevin's comment that the book was indeed a work of fiction.

In an effort to center the conversation on romance tonight, a beaming Lucy looked at Matt and Ellen and asked in a conspiratorial whisper, "Tell me, what do you two lovebirds have planned for this weekend? Matt, do you have anything special planned for this Valentine weekend before your wedding?"

Matt gave a sheepish grin. "Well, we aren't taking any time to go away anywhere now because we'll need time off for the wedding and honeymoon. But I am looking forward to spending most of the weekend alone with my lovely fiancÚ."

Deception was an unnatural practice for both Kevin and Ellen. Kevin glanced away when Matt pulled Ellen's face to his for a kiss, while Ellen was noticeably nervous when she and Matt kissed at the table. Seeing Matt's confused look, Ellen's face flushed and she whispered, "I'm sorry."

Not understanding Ellen's involuntary reaction, Matt tried to lighten the situation with levity. "Honey, I think it's O.K. for two people about to be married to kiss on Valentine Day, even in public," Matt joked.

"Well, I can't think of anything more romantic than Matt and Ellen's plans for this weekend," Lucy cooed. Turning to Kevin she asked, "Can you Doc?"

"No, I honestly can say that I can't think of anything more romantic than that," Kevin replied, straining to keep his voice devoid of any hint of emotion.

As the evening continued, Lucy was surprised by Kevin's attitude. Instead of becoming more romantic, he actually became more distant and despondent. Lucy was getting desperate and since time was running out for the evening, more drastic measures were needed. Maybe jealousy was the ticket to get Kevin to pay a little attention to his date. Seeing the club's owner at the bar, Lucy exclaimed, "My, I didn't know that my pal Luke was back in town! Let me go over and welcome him home." After kissing Kevin, Lucy sauntered over to the bar to flirt with her friend Luke Spencer.

Aimlessly watching the couples dance to the music, Kevin decided to take advantage of Lucy's absence to spend a few minutes alone with Ellen. "Ellen, since Lucy has abandoned me for the moment, how about a dance? Looking at Matt, Kevin quickly added, "You don't mind Matt, do you?"

"No, go ahead." Matt insisted after Ellen started to protest. He wanted Ellen to get in at least one dance tonight. He had assisted Monica Quartermaine in a particularly long surgery today and while he was usually enthusiastic about dancing with Ellen his aching back and muscles told him to take it easy tonight. Maybe tomorrow night in Ellen's apartment Ellen and he could share a quiet romantic dance. Seeing Kevin lead Ellen by the hand to the dance floor, Grace knew that this was the perfect moment to make Matt aware of Kevin and Ellen's new definition of friendship. "This is it Chris, wish me luck," she said, leaving Chris to join Matt at his table. Grace knew that her plan to break up Matt and Ellen by ratting out Ellen could backfire and Matt could be mad at her for telling him the truth, but it was a chance she was willing to take.

~~~*~~~

A demon's day in madness kissed
I swear I never had it like this
Forbidden yet I cannot resist

~~~*~~~

"Kevin, how ..."

Conversation would disturb the pleasant relief Kevin was now feeling and he interrupted Ellen by murmuring, "Shhh. Can we just dance for a minute?" Kevin simply wanted to dance slowly with Ellen and savor the feel of her within his arms. Ellen acquiesced to Kevin's request and in silence they started to dance. As their bodies began to sway gracefully to the music Kevin tried to convince himself this night of torture and masking his emotions with cryptic facial expressions was worth it if they could share these few moments of closeness. Taking care not to hold her too closely, Kevin still felt himself become aroused. As the song ended far too soon, Kevin knew that he couldn't go back to the table with Ellen and resume the charade.

"I don't know that I can do this Ellen. I thought at first that I could but ... I'm not sure anymore. I'm sorry." Feeling as if the walls were closing in on him, Kevin released Ellen from his arms and quickly walked away. Ellen stood by herself on the dance floor and watched Kevin enter what she assumed was Luke's office and close the door. Ellen knew that she was standing at a precipice where her next step would literally determine her fate. Common sense told her to go back to the table now and leave with Matt. In future days when she looked back on that night, she realized that common sense was nowhere in the vicinity. Her eyes drifted to Matt, who was sitting and seemed to be in a deep conversation with Grace Sullivan. Under normal circumstances she would be at least curious about the topic of discussion, but all her mind could focus on at that moment was Kevin and the conflicting emotions he was feeling. She understood very well what Kevin was feeling because she shared those very same emotions. All evening she had deliberately avoided prolonged eye contact with Kevin in fear that her feelings would become evident to even the most casual observer. However she discovered, as Kevin just admitted, it was becoming too great a burden to bear - continuing to ignore or hide the feelings they had for one another. What she and Kevin were doing with their stolen glances and unleashed passions was making them miserable and turned them into liars to those closest to them. After a moment's hesitation, Ellen crossed the dance floor to Luke Spencer's office.

From his seat Chris watched with a cynical smirk as Kevin left Ellen on the dance floor, and a moment later when Ellen followed Kevin to Luke's office. "I'm not sure what you're using on Ellen Burgess but it must be some pretty powerful stuff to make the Iron Maiden come after you," an admiring Chris pondered. A glance at Matt and Grace's discussion a few yards away convinced Chris that his nemesis was starting to doubt his ladylove due to Grace's persistent comments. As he wondered what active role he could play in this evening's events, the sight of Lucy Coe emerging from the ladies' room answered his own question. Chris rose from his seat and quickly strode to join Lucy, who was obviously scanning the room looking for her date.

"You certainly look very beautiful and enticing tonight Lucy, but then again you always do." Chris said as he shamelessly raked his eyes over Lucy from head to toe. Lucy was dressed to kill and most of the men in the club had given her more than one lascivious look.

Basking in Chris' admiration, Lucy acknowledged his complement. "Thank you Chris. You look very handsome yourself tonight."

"I'm surprised Dr. Collins has let you out of his sight tonight," Chris continued. Upon hearing his comment, Lucy mentioned that unfortunately she had misplaced her date at the moment. Helpful as always, with a gleam in his eyes Chris volunteered, "I do believe that I saw him enter Luke Spencer's office a few minutes ago. Who knows, maybe he's stashed a Valentine Day's surprise for you in there and he's gone to get it." Chris immediately saw in Lucy's gullible face that she honesty believed his theory as she quickly excused herself to find Kevin. "Oh yes, I do think that the dynamite has just been lit by yours truly."

~~~*~~~

Shocked in silent trances
Our eyes search just to know
What makes flesh and body hunger
For another burning soul
Conscience quiet pleading
In the corner of my eye
But seeing is believing
All consequences fly

~~~*~~~

Not normally a heavy drinker, Kevin's throat burned from the straight glass of Bourbon he quickly gulped down. The burning sensation strangely complemented the fire he felt was consuming him. Using his hands to brace himself as he leaned on the large oak sideboard, Kevin urgently tried to pull himself together before facing Lucy, Matt, and Ellen again. For months, hell maybe even years now, he was quietly attracted to and eventually grew to love Ellen, and at most it felt like a dull constant pain in his heart. But, by voicing his feelings and making Ellen aware of them, somehow the intensity of his feelings exploded and was much harder to control. It was as if acknowledging this connection between them brought it to life and made it impossible to suppress his desires any longer. Shaking his head, Kevin unscrewed the top off the Bourbon bottle and prepared to pour himself another stiff strong drink before facing anyone again. His hand stopped in mid-air as he heard the music from the dance floor momentarily blare loudly in the office. Without turning around he assumed that Luke had entered his office and he said, "I'll be out of here in a minute Luke. I hope you don't mind that I helped myself to your private collection of spirits back here." Kevin poured the drink in the shot glass.

He was thunderstruck to hear Ellen's voice reply, "I don't think the solution to what is bothering you in that glass Kevin."

Kevin sighed heavily. "That's true. But I can't have the solution I want...the solution I need, and this," he said looking at the glass, "is a poor substitute." Hearing Ellen steps as she walked closer behind him Kevin's hands tightly gripped the sideboard and he warned hoarsely, "Ellen, I don't have nerves of steel right now - not after being so close to you all evening and after that dance we just shared."

"Kevin," Ellen whispered softly and tenderly placed her hand on his shoulder as she stood directly behind him.

Knowing he was undone by that single touch, Kevin took a deep breath and slowly turned around. The look of affection and more startling, acceptance, in Ellen's face made him dare to hope that maybe, perhaps, she did want to be with him. Afraid that what was taking place was a desperate love-sick dream which would end if he said another word, Kevin closed his eyes, leaning down to kiss Ellen as she raised her other hand to intertwine her fingers behind his neck, and they gave into the dream.

~~~*~~~

With fever I persist
The rages of your kiss
My reckless heart in fist
And I cannot resist

A demon's day in madness kissed
I swear I never had it like this
Forbidden yet I cannot resist

~~~*~~~

What began as tender, tentative kisses swiftly grew more ardent and passionate. The sensation of Kevin's hands gliding down her body took Ellen's breath away and she allowed him to draw her closer and meld their bodies together. All Kevin could see was the smooth chocolate-colored skin as he kissed Ellen's face and neck; all he could hear her sighs and moans in response to his adore. Only when he pulled his face from Ellen's face to look into her eyes did his senses notice their surroundings again. As it had occurred a few minutes earlier, the music was the dance floor was playing loudly, and with a sudden sense of foreboding his gaze traveled to the now opened office door. Kevin saw Lucy standing there, shocked in dumbfounded disbelief, staring at him as he held Ellen. Upon feeling Kevin's body involuntarily stiffen, Ellen opened her eyes and audibly gasped when she turned to see Lucy. Instinctively she dropped her arms from around Kevin's neck but Kevin refused to break physical contact completely. Instead of moving away, Kevin took his arms from Ellen's waist and tightly clasped one of her hands.

The tears streamed down Lucy's cheeks as her heart was shattered into a million pieces. "Doc....how could you.....why...." she croaked, gasping for air between sobs.

"Lucy, I should have told you..." Kevin didn't get a chance to finish the statement; he watched as Lucy spun on her heels and ran blindly from the office.

Kevin knew that he couldn't erase the hurt and betrayal Lucy was feeling but he had to be sure that she wouldn't do something reckless in her initial rage that she would later regret. Still staring at the opened door he stated simply, "I have to go after her and talk to her."

Ellen nodded knowingly and agreed. "And I need to talk to Matt. I made the decision on the dance floor before coming in here." Seeing Kevin look at her and prepare to say something, Ellen placed her fingertips on Kevin's lips to stop him from talking and reminded him, "Go after her now Kevin. We'll talk later."

Gently stroking her cheek with his fingertips, Kevin vowed, "Yes, we will. Call me on my cellphone later, no matter how late it is." Upon receiving Ellen's promise that she would indeed call him, Kevin left the office in pursuit of Lucy.

Ellen's heart was heavy and her feet felt like lead weights as she walked back into the club. Never in her life would she have believed she would ever hurt Matt, but tonight, it would be unavoidable. Quickly scanning the crowded club, Ellen didn't see Lucy or Kevin, but almost immediately her gaze locked with Matt's, who was coming towards her. In the midst of deciding what she would initially say, the look on Matt's face made her heart briefly stop beating and sent a chill throughout her body. "He knows," Ellen thought with despair, "He already knows."

Song Lyrics Credit - Resist by Melissa Etheridge

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